Dear Friends at Bonhomme,

As you know, the Centers for Disease Control last week (Thursday, May 13) introduced new guidelines about masking and vaccinations. If you have been vaccinated, you may go without masks, both indoors and out. St. Louis county also rescinded mask and social distancing regulations on Friday, May 14.

Here at Bonhomme, we are grateful to God for guiding us through a season of pandemic, and for helping us to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel! We celebrate the resilience of our leadership and Session and the ways in which we have learned and adapted during this season. We are so grateful for technology and for the gifts of creative minds that have allowed us to meet via Zoom and to Livestream our worship services. We’re grateful for the outdoor events that have allowed us to gather, and we’re excited about this week’s joint worship service in the RecPlex at 10:30 on Sunday, May 23.

Our Session met last night, May 18, to discuss possible responses to the latest news from St. Louis County and the CDC.

We trust our church family to make wise personal choices about masks, social distancing, and vaccines and will not establish a church-wide requirement. Please remember that the CDC and St. Louis County still recommend unvaccinated people wear a mask and social distance.

We will not ask anyone about their vaccination status, and we encourage our church family not to ask anyone else at church about their vaccination status. This is a private personal health decision.

During worship services, we will reserve a section of our sanctuary and Steffen Hall as “masks-required.” These rows will remain blocked for social distancing for the time being. Reservations will no longer be required for worship services. Coffee will be served in the Commons and in the Steffen Hall lobby.

As for groups and gatherings, we encourage our ministry leaders and leadership teams to talk with their group and determine what mask and social distance standards are best for them on an ongoing basis. Pastors and staff are ready to provide guidance if needed. We will no longer restrict meetings and gatherings at Bonhomme.

Regarding Kids Ministry gatherings, families and volunteers should decide whether they wish to remain masked or not as a personal decision. Please remember that the CDC and St. Louis County still recommend that unvaccinated people wear a mask and social distance. But reservations will still be required since our capacity is currently limited by volunteer availability.

We will continue to Livestream our worship services every week, and you can find those services on our website, on our Facebook page, and on our church YouTube channel. Anyone who cannot attend in person is encouraged to join us online, so we will be able to continue to serve you.

We recognize that our church family includes people with very different perspectives on the pandemic, masks, social distancing, and public health orders.

We want to acknowledge different perspectives as best as we can without creating opportunities for division over secondary issues. Our number one priority must always be God’s glory, lived out through our love for God and our love for others. We want people to meet Jesus at Bonhomme. We want people to grow in their relationship with Jesus at Bonhomme. Where we stand on pandemic issues should never become a distraction from those priorities.

In 5 years, we will look back on this time and not care nearly as much about masks, vaccines, or social distancing. But we will care deeply about the relationships we have with each other and how we treated one another through this challenging time.

To summarize, we do care very much about safety. We believe that options for personal safety and responsibility are shifting in the direction of the individual and away from groups and organizations. We feel that lifting restrictions at this time allows our congregation to make decisions that will personally work most effectively for them. For some, that will involve getting a vaccination. Others may choose to wear a mask and keep social distance.

As a result, we encourage each person to make responsible choices that are best for them, their family, and their ministry activities. And we ask everyone to keep the Good News about Jesus and our firm belief in God and His Word in a place of higher priority than disagreements about pandemic-related issues.

Let’s love the Lord and one another well in the days and weeks ahead.

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Dave